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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Scottish Health Informatics Programme for research (SHIP)

We've covered the Welsh Secure Anonymised Information Linkage system (SAIL) and the English Research Capability Programme (the NIHR's RCP) in the past, but not yet touched on the Scottish equivalent service.

A good synopsis of the development and potential of this service and the others mentioned above can be found in the MRC led and severally funded report UK e-health records research capacity and capability [beware, the PDF is slow to load using Chrome in our experience] ("the MRC led a mapping exercise in 2010 on behalf of several major UK research funders and the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) to review the UK capability in e-health records research and determine the requirements to support a sustainable e-health informatics research base in the future").

Link here to the Scottish Health Informatics Programme home page. In their own words there is a certain amount of adjectival exuberance (reproduced below) but we have a more sober but no less positive analysis to come tomorrow as out internet connection allows!

"SHIP is an ambitious, Scotland-wide research platform for the collation, management, dissemination and analysis of Electronic Patient Records (EPRs). The programme brings together the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews with the Information Services Division (ISD) of NHS Scotland.

SHIP is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council and aims to:

  • Provide access to an exciting new national research facility, firmly embedded within and supported by NHS Scotland, providing the basis for numerous future studies using EPRs.
  • Create a research portal for EPRs already held by NHS Scotland that will provide rapid, secure, access to the type of data that clinical scientists require.
  • Develop and evaluate systems that work across institutional boundaries to allow linkage between large, federated, third party research datasets and the NHS research portal.

We are:

  • Engaging with researchers a programme of training seminars and workshops and a biennial conference on "Exploiting Existing Data for Health Research".
  • Engaging with the public, building on considerable experience in the field of the public's attitudes to genetic studies, to define a transparent and publicly acceptable approach to the governance of EPR research.
  • Producing novel research using EPRs and major longitudinal cohort databases, specifically in the areas of clinical trials, pharmacovigilance, diabetes epidemiology, and research resulting from the linkage of EPRs to socioeconomic and environmental data.
  • Exploring the feasibility of taking major genetic studies in Scotland back through time bylinking historical vital events data for the >20,000 study members and their families.

We believe that a step-change in the quality, quantity and governance of research using EPRs can now be achieved with a more joined-up Scottish-wide strategy. Instead of the ad hoc linkages used to date, the SHIP programme will provide a platform for Scottish record linkage that will drive EPR research throughout the UK and abroad."

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